The Miami Marlins nearly came away with a win last night. Jeff Locke pitched well in his debut, but Kyle Barraclough surrendered two walks and the lead.
The Miami Marlins have a quality arm in Kyle Barraclough. He has show the ability to get out of jams, pitch effectively, and crank up the heat when necessary. At only 27 years, he has logged a mere 1.059 years of MLB service time.
Make no mistake, Kyle Barraclough is part of the extended future for the Miami Marlins. He won’t be arbitration eligible until 2019. Free agency remains in the distant future in 2022. There are plenty of reasons to keep him around, but he needs to start throwing strikes again.
Barraclough has made significant strides since making his debut in 2015. He wowed Marlins brass and fans with his ability to ramp up a fastball in the upper 90’s. Pitching only 24.1 innings that season, he managed to maintain an impressive 2.59 ERA.
Hopes were high for the hard-throwing right-hander. Many felt he was a natural slide into the eighth inning, and could eventually take over duties closing.
There was only one issue. Many hoped it would sort itself, but that doesn’t appear to have happened yet. Now seeing Major League action for the third season in a row, Barraclough is showing signs of regressing. Worst of all, his command is as poor as ever.
Through his first 22.1 innings this season, Barraclough is having his worst statistical year to date. His ERA is nearly double, currently sitting at 4.43. He is facing more batters in shorter amounts of time, allowing more hits, runs, and walks.
Can’t paint the corners
In many cases, Barraclough is just missing. In Thursday nights game against the Diamondbacks, several pitches were just off the edge. They were close enough to be conceivably called strikes, and very difficult pitches for the hitters to lay off. But they did, and Barraclough walked two batters.
Those runners would eventually cross the plate and prove to be the deciding runs. That leads us to the biggest problem of all: Barraclough’s alarmingly high walk ratio.
Through his first two years of action in the big leagues, Barraclough’s BB/9 was 5.8, which is fairly high. His ability to induce swings as a result of his high velocity often got him out of jams and made his walk rate less of an issue. This year, that isn’t happening.
It took a little while, but it appears other teams know to sit back on Barraclough and make him throw them strikes. He isn’t doing it. This year, his BB/9 is 8.5. Pair that with 3 wild pitches and it’s easy to see why so many runs are being tallied when he is on the mound.
Bullpen issues have plagued the Miami Marlins all season. Barraclough is just a drop in the bucket of a larger problem. However, recently Barraclough has been public enemy number one. Considering his status as a (hopefully) cornerstone piece of the Marlins bullpen moving forward, he’ll need to improve.
With his numbers down across the board, it appears that a “slow start” would be the most convenient way to explain things away. The Marlins will need him to be successful this year. With A.J. Ramos potentially on the move at some point this season, he is due to have his role increase.
They might be hesitant to do that if he can’t show drastic improvement in his command.
With Drew Steckenrider, Barraclough, Nick Wittgren, and Brian Ellington all young and with years of team control remaining, the future is bright for the Marlins pen. All these hard-throwing right-handers have potentially shut down stuff, but all struggle with command in the same way.
The Miami Marlins need Kyle Barraclough to work out, and that’s why they won’t give up on him. If he struggles through the month of June, he might be sent down to work some things out. Sometimes the front office thinks a guy just needs a reboot.